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Legal Professionals Run the Risk of Mental Health Issues, Studies Say

A man with his head in his hands looking at documents

Serving as a legal professional can mean working in a high stress environment around-the-clock. Understanding, arguing, and enforcing the law impacts the future of a defendant or plaintiff. How the law is handled also influences local governments and our nation as a whole. Not surprisingly then, legal professionals often experience depression and anxiety, which can in turn lead to drug abuse or alcohol addiction. As the newly installed President of the Virginia State Bar, Attorney Leonard Heath is seeking to raise awareness of this issue across Virginia. In a recent article for the Virginia State Bar’s publication, Virginia Lawyer, Attorney Heath outlined the issue and its importance, noting that it has become clear that a disproportionately large number of legal professionals suffer from a mental health disorder of some sort and to some degree. The stress of the job seems to be amounting to unbearable levels, and many attorneys do not know where to turn to for help.

These concerns became the focus of a report from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-being issued in August 2017. Within the report, it was noted that a lawyer struggling with mental health issues and substance addiction cannot deliver the best possible representation to clients. Indeed, an attorney who does not take care of themselves will not be able to take care of those who come to them in need of legal assistance.

To address the problem and make certain more attorneys improve their mental and emotional health, there must be a better understanding of the core issues involved and a network of help made available to legal professionals in need. As Attorney Heath covers in his article, Virginia is lucky to have high ranking legal officials with direct relations to the National Task Force. Through his own evaluation of the situation and the work of the National Task Force, it has become clear that no legal professional is exempt from possible mental health issues.

Click here to view Attorney Heath’s full article.